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Virus closes auditor’s office in Belmont County

New software system in place

T-L Photo/ROBERT A. DEFRANK Belmont County Auditor Cindi Henry’s door is closed this week with strict masking and sanitation protocols in place after multiple staff members tested positive for COVID-19. The office should be back to normal operations next week, with upgraded software for the public’s convenience and that of the staff.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Belmont County Auditor Cindi Henry closed her office to the public and limited visitors after several staff members came down with COVID-19 at the same time.

“The budgetary office had an employee that tested positive last week, and since then there’s been a total of four that have tested positive,” Henry said.

She said the positive staff members are not able to do their entire jobs from home, but they have been able to contribute.

“We have been in contact with them to get certain things done via phone,” she said, adding that there have been no serious symptoms among the staffers. “All of them have indicated that they have been vaccinated, and they probably have lesser symptoms from what I’m reading. They seem to be doing OK.”

Henry added that the illness of so many staff members is taking a toll on the office schedule.

“We’re at the end of the year. We’re closing out of 2021 and reopening 2022 and all that budgetary paperwork has to be done, and my budgetary clerk has it, and my backup budgetary person has it, and my payroll clerk had it and my backup payroll clerk has it and (another staff member) has it,” Henry said.

She said while the county’s payroll will not be delayed, other paperwork has been stymied.

“We’re operating fine, it’s just going to be a delay on everyone getting their bills paid and getting their purchase orders put in place,” Henry said, adding that there should be no serious impediment to county business. “There’s just going to be a lot of backlog work for us to get caught up.”

She said precautions are being taken.

“We have closed the office to just the staff. Everybody’s masked – trying to keep the public in general out. If it’s an emergency and they have to come in, they have to be masked to come in because we don’t want to infect anybody if any of us are infected and don’t know it yet,” Henry said. “You can be infected and test negative for several days from what I’m reading and then be positive. We’re doing what we can do.”

Henry added that the quarantine is expected to end soon with all staff set to return today or Monday.

The cases occurred just as Henry’s office was making some upgrades for greater convenience to the public. She said she and former auditor Anthony Rocchio both researched software providers, including ISSG of Muskingum County – the system that is being installed, replacing MVP, which the county has used for more than 30 years.

“We’re actually in the middle of a software conversion,” Henry said. “It’s going to update and put in some awesome real estate software, because the old one’s been here for a few years. … We should be going live by (today).

“Taxpayers that go in and check their taxes online, they’ll notice … it’s going to be so much more transparent. It’s going to be so much more understandable. To me, it’s light years ahead of what we had,” Henry said. “The software we were in had so many areas where mistakes could be made. We needed to get a new software that cut down on the error factor.”

She said the yearly cost for the system is about $200,000.

“The actual cost will be slightly higher than what he had before, but when you look at what we have compared to what we’re getting, it’s night and day,” she said.

The auditor’s website is belmontcountyauditor.org.

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